Mar 1, 2012

Vacances de Carnaval!

I know, I know, it's been ages sine my last post. I'm sorry. I'll try to be a bit more active from now on again.

The past week we had what is called carnival holidays here, well the equivalent of our Finnish week of holidays in February. It was a week well needed! The winter here has apparently been exceptionally long and cold which of course depends on what you are used to... I think we saw snow once, which was strangely nice and familiar. But unfortunately you adapt yourself too quickly to the temperature, so yes, I was cold (and sometimes still am) even though it's far from as cold as in Finland.

Since my last post I've been up to a lot (logically, seeing as it's been three months...). I finally decided to actually find myself a soccer team so every wednesday and friday evenings I spend a couple of hours running or playing in a village nearby. We had our mid-stay camp in the beginning of Ferbuary with AFS which was nice in a way, for seeing everyone again, but sad in another, that means we've been through half of our experience here.. Seeing how fast time has passed up until now, it's a scary thought that it'll pass even faster the closer we get to the end of it..

The week-end before the vacations we spent some time together with Jade and Carrie. Saturday we did a tour at the shopping centre in Tournai and afterwards we spent an amazing evening consisting of a pizza, a couple of drinks and a lot of talking. Something we should do more often in the end. Sunday we had the most brilliant idea of going biking in the cold with Jade. We put on lots and lots of layers seeing as it was fairly windy outside but in the end I sort of over did it and ended up not being able to bike that well... We found a nice little path and were able to walk on a small frozen pond even. As frozen as we were, we found a small cafeteria with the intention of having a hot chocolate and leaving.. Well we ended up talking for quite a while and got driven home by some people she knew. Sunday evening I still had that usual feeling right before holidays, as if I'd still have to go to school the day after. Luckily for once it wasn't the case.

Monday we had lunch at home and took the bus into town with Carrie with the mission of finding a ccostume for carneval. There are carnevals organized all over Belgium, the one in Kain passed right before our house, so saturday we were lined up in front of the bathroom window, Carrie, Marianne, me and Jade (with some dogs of course ).. The one of our village is quite small but there will be a bigger one in Tournai in mid-March and the costumes we needed were for one of the most well known carnevaks in Belgium, the one of Binche. Monday afternoon we saw a girl from my class for a couple of hours and had a drink in town with Carrie afterwards. And we did find our costumes, she decided to do a guy while I cheated a bit and did "Pippi Longstocking", the easy thing with my hair.

tuesday morning we left for Binche around 10 in the morning feeling just a little bit ridiculous on the train. the closer we got to Binche the more we saw people dressed up. The carneval of binche is known for its folklore where there are some "gilles"(people dressed up in these big costumes) that throw oranges or mandarines during the parade in the afternoon. The place was packed with people and us we were maybe 10 students from AFS, plus we found lots of Rotary people too. The carneval in itself was quite an interesting experience, even though I obviously had some problems with seeing anything with my height. Luckily the guys with us were kind enough to lend their shoulders which is how I ended up having and orange thrown in my face. Yes, you do need to pay attention... I did manage to grab three in my hands too! It was a really fun day! Leaving was a bit more difficult, we had to wait a while at the station since it was too crowded to get everyone on the same train... In the evening I left for Brussels to sleep over at Jade's "kot" for the night.

Wednesday morning I took the train to go see my best friend Nele in the flemish part of Belgium. Wednesday we were in Hasselt, a nice town where we had some thai-food and walked around in the shops etc. And lots of talking of course, seeing as I hadn't seen her since the holidays in November. Thursday we had to get up really early (especially for holidays), since she had to go do something for her Bachelor's project at Uni, in other words we were locating frogs... After having spent a few hours half a sleep in the nature of Belgium (yes that actually exists) we were headed to Maastricht, a city in the Netherlands, next to the Belgian border though. It was a nice city and the coolest part was paying 2 euros for the bus to get there, not complaining!  As usual we did some walking around the town, shopping, the normal.. In the evening we watched some movies and talke lots and lots. Friday was my last day there and I got to know the awesomeness that is the Belgian train system once again. With a trip that should take 2-3 hours, I left her town around 3 and got home between 7 and 8.. Oh well, that's just one example, in reality the Belgian public accomodation system is good in my opinion. There are trains and busses to pretty much everywhere and metros in the biggest cities. And from a Finnish point of view, you can get around quite cheaply still, especially with a go-Pass, a train ticket for 10 trips no matter from where to where within Belgium for 50 euros... Not too bad.

To get back to the subject, friday evening we went out for a bit, only to wake up (fairly) early saturday since we had an AFS activity. This time the activity tookplace in Tournai, so compared to the others we didn't have to leave home that early. We were about 10 students with some volunteers and the activity didn't seem that special to us seeing as we know the town quite well.. But oh well, it was nice enough. In the evening we had some going out in town. Sunday morning we had been assigned to cook, and seeing as the three of us are all veery great in the kitchen, uhm yeah, we did it, that's what matters no? The week-end before we'd bought some hairdye for Jade seeing as she stil had some blue-greenish hair, a nice blond quite close to her own colour. Sunday evening we decided to do it, although me and Carrie realised we were quite lost on what we should do.. And the result wasn't exactly what we'd wanted.. Fo some reasons redheads are made fun of here and of course her hair ended up with a mixture of light red, blonde and the greenish hairs.. Sounds like quite a mix but it could be worse =D

Tonight we're leaving for France with Marianne and Carrie to spend a week-end at the sea somewhe in the north. Apparently there are lots of other family friends coming too so in the end it should be a really nice little trip we have ahead. Life here keeps on rolling on and I try to keep up.. I'll try to get a bit more active with the blog again, maybe make a slight summary post about what I was up to between November and February, or oucth, it's March today already, wauw.

A la prochaine, hoping it'll be pretty soon!
Julia =)

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